Searching for Happiness – Becoming Fearless

“The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

I recently completed level two Shambhala training. For those of you who do not know what Shambhala is, allow me to explain myself. Shambhala is a form of Tibetan Buddhism in which I have been practicing for over a year now. Last fall I attended level one training, a meditation retreat on basic goodness. Called the Art of Being Human. This level two retreat is called the Birth of the Warrior.

Pretty epic don’t you think? Grab the Samaria swords and don’t mess with me.

Kidding. This warrior-ship is the one that happens inside and radiates outward. It is a warrior-ship of learning. Learning to be gentle with yourself and looking honestly at the true nature of your feelings.

In Tibetian warrior means – one who is brave. How better to be brave than to look at what you fear the most? I mean really look at it?

Needless to say, this meditation retreat was one that was filled with internal adversity. Me against me.

I guess in a basic sense we all know what our fears are. They first come out as strong defensive emotions. Like anger, closedness, prejudices, racism, greed, jealousy.

All of those fiery emotions are our first defenders. Protectors of our true fears. We all operate this way. Every single one of us. In fact, because we all do this is one of the big reasons why we are all so blind to our real fears in the first place. Our cowardice as humans has been taught as an acceptable means of protection for centuries by our parents and society. No one is spared by fear and no one is spared by the aggression it leads to.

I went into this weekend retreat thinking that I already intellectually knew what my fears were. No problem. I am afraid of death, afraid of hurt, afraid of failure. You know the usual. Deep down we all know what we fear.

But why do we leave it at that? Why do we ignore it? Why do we know but not deal with it?

Because it is too painful to look at fear. Because we wouldn’t know what to do if we really understood the nature of our fears anyway. How could we?

Think about the last time you got angry with someone. Why did you get mad? Was it because they disrespected you? What does that mean? Disrespect is the fear of potential lack of love, it is the fear of invisibility, it is the fear of powerlessness. Contemplating our emotions is more powerful than you might know.

If you peel off even one layer of a habitual reaction you will experience a whole new perspective of your emotions. It may be disrespect that makes you angry but it makes you angry because you fear a lack of power. That is the true root.

It is pretty amazing.

If you think about the last time you were afraid of something and were actually aware of it. Like when a family member was sick or late coming home and you didn’t know where they were. This is fear of abandonment, loss, pain.

It is everywhere, our fears are everywhere at all times.

When you take the time to contemplate your emotions and actually feel and see your fear for what it is instead of responding in your habitual way you can begin to transform the power they have over you.

Fear is a fire and it will grow wild with the more oxygen you give it. Fearlessness is like a welcome rain it is natural like our basic goodness. Putting out the fire and bringing to life the forest again. The trees were always there, the earth, the sky they were just smothered unable to be in a natural state. there needs to be a balance between all parts of us. The only thing that changes is your perspective and the only thing that grows is what you give the energy and feed. Will you embrace the rain or the fire? If you feed the fire no amount of rain will help the forest grow.

To reach a state of true fearlessness you need to first look at the nature of your fears. Look at your protective coating you have formed to keep you from touching your fear. What kind of cage have you created to trap your fears safe inside?

Some fears stay with us forever and that is a part of our human experience. If you fear a loved one dying that feeling may stay there forever. However, the more you look at fear the less of a stranger it will become to you. The more you look at your fears the more you can have compassion for yourself and your pain.

During this retreat, we were taught to put fear in the cradle of loving-kindness. A wishy-washy term for some I am sure. However, this is the most powerful thing you can do.

How can you have compassion for your fear?

The next time you are afraid, angry, or in pain try the steps below before responding.

How to Become Fearless

  • Find a quiet place to yourself.
  • Take three deep in breaths and three deep out breaths.
  • Tell yourself what would you say to a friend?
  • Ask yourself. What is the worst thing that can happen? Then what? Then what? Can you survive this?
  • If your fear was a child how would you comfort it?
  • Is the potential outcome of your fear worse than the feeling of fear itself?

I believe that through loving kindness, contemplation and compassion you can free yourself from the restrictive power of pain. You can stop projecting your fears onto others as their job to solve and learn to look within. Learn to be fearless.

People who are prejudiced, racist and mean are not hateful cruel creatures. They are extremely fearful. They have allowed fear to control their view on the world. How could having compassion for their fears change them?

To become a warrior is to stand toe to toe with fear, look at it and battle it with compassion.

At the end of the retreat, I came face to face with a fear of mine that was so big and hidden that it took days for me to see the cage deep inside I was keeping it in.

I feel ready to fight my big fears and continue on my path to becoming a warrior.

Are you ready to be brave? Are you ready to stop the blame, hate, righteousness? Ready to peel back the layers of your habitual responses in order to live authentically as you? No chains no cages, just you?

If you are then you are ready to be born a warrior too. If you are then you are ready to become fearless.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Brooke | 14th Sep 17

    Love your point of view here. I feel like I need to rehearse this until its embedded in my brain! Haha. Thanks for your motivation & inspiration Xo

  2. Alyssa from The Sparkly Life | 15th Sep 17

    I love, love, love that quote about courage being triumph over fear. I need to remember that! (Also, I want to go to a meditation retreat now!)

    • stephaniewp | 15th Sep 17

      Do it! You would love it, if for no other reason it great time for yourself.

  3. thenafranssen | 15th Sep 17

    Love this post. And that quote is really nice, what a great way to start my day. Thank you for the motivation.

  4. amindfultravellerblog | 16th Sep 17

    Nelson Mandela was a man of great words.
    Your words are very important Steph….something we all need to be more aware of and make time for.
    Lorelle 🙂

  5. fancypaperblog | 16th Sep 17

    It is a gift to be fearless x

  6. angelanoelauthor | 16th Sep 17

    This retreat sounds amazing. You’ve definitely brought back a great deal of clarity from your year of practice and this more recent chance to take your practice to the next level. The buddhists (and you) have it right, fear drives so many of our negative emotions. In the past few years, I have worked to observe my emotions from a distance. Allow them to wash over me, but look at them more objectively. “Hmm. I feel like that person intentionally disrespected me. Why do I feel that way? Why am I telling myself that particular story?” And from that distance I can then do more of what you say, discover the root. Once the root is known, I can let it go. Sometimes, people do intentionally disrespect others. But, I can deal with it effectively when my head isn’t clouded with the kind of protection mechanisms you describe. What am I protecting really? I can’t allow someone to hurt me, but lashing out won’t help. If I can see their actions from a distance, I can set boundaries, or otherwise limit the relationship. Or, just walk away. The choice is always mine. What I say to my son is, “I can’t always control what happens to me, but I can decide how I’m going to feel about it and what I’m going to do after.” But that must start with knowing the root of what’s bothering me. I love your post-such clarity on a difficult topic.

    • stephaniewp | 18th Sep 17

      Hi Angela! Thanks for the lovely comment. I think you brought up a good point here that I forgot to mention also. We talked a lot about the stories we tell ourselves. Something happens to us and makes us feel an emotion of some kind, anger, sadness, discomfort and we then tell ourselves a huge story to work ourselves up over it which usually only hurts us more. I think focusing on the kinds of stories we tell ourselves is another way we can have dignity and happiness while still living a human life with fear. Now when someone hurts me or I feel mistreated I try to be conscious of whether I am adding to that feeling or not. Being mindful is so freeing! Thanks for sharing your own advice and experience with me 🙂

  7. Ritu | 16th Sep 17

    This sounds wonderful!

  8. You Can Always Start Now | 16th Sep 17

    Great post. Love the quote. I think our journey is growing and learning and a big part of that is courage and facing fears and just doing it. I don’t want a lot of regrets at the end of the day so facing fears and stepping into the unknown is part of that. Thank you.

  9. Gary | 16th Sep 17

    So much in this post has resonance Steph. I procrastinate because I have tuned myself to expect failure. Its nonsense really as when I look at past achievements they all went very well and often exceeded what they started out as. The being brave aspect is quite humbling against that. I’m not afraid of failure, just expect it; subtle difference, but evolved from the same root. I think the meditative aspect could help there and return me to a mindfulness course I did that tracks a very similar course to this.

    Anger management I learnt way back through martial arts too. Controlled aggression in combat and a mind predicting situations and avoiding them before they flare up. Similar ethos to what you are doing spiritually too; well it was in the dojo I trained in.

    I think, on a serve ball, that was what Star Wars tapped into too; the creation of Joda and his view points on the path to the dark side being synonymous with life and poor mind management in reality.

    Sometimes I read posts, often yours, and think I have forgotten the face of my father (to coin another book with a gunslinger in). I should take heed and self reflect, find those moments in a day to stop, pause and breathe again.

    Super post yet again x

    • stephaniewp | 18th Sep 17

      Thaks Gary! I think we all try to piece together what things mean emotionally through many different outlets. Mine through Buddhism and meditation and you throughout your own life. Fear is one of those things that we know for the most part is useless but it has so much control over us. It is amazing when we do reflect to see that it really is just like “the force” There are both light and dark forces within us all and what we choose to feed is what will eventually have power over us! Love the Joda shout out!

  10. Deutsch Casinos | 16th Sep 17

    Searching for Happiness – Becoming Fearless

    You could certainly see your skills within the work you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

    • stephaniewp | 18th Sep 17

      Thank you! I find writing these kinds of posts is a great way for me to discover how I feel about the topic myself. It is almost like a diary. I hope that others enjoy these posts and maybe relate in some way.

  11. Adventures of a New Floridian | 16th Sep 17

    Great post! Thank you for sharing that quote. It is one that can be needed in many different scenarios!

  12. Allison Brown | 16th Sep 17

    This is so awesome! I’ve written about fear a few times, myself. I love Elizabeth Gilbert who says that if fear must tag along, it has to ride in the backseat! In other words, we acknowledge it but we do not allow it to rule our lives!

    • stephaniewp | 18th Sep 17

      Oh I love that! I think that is exactly what my new goal is for dealing with fear. Accepting it when it comes up but not letting it rule my world.

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